A Russian soldier serving in a unit based in South Ossetia, Sgt Alexander Glukhov, defected and sought asylum in Georgia. Speaking on Georgian television, he said conditions in his unit were unbearable. Russia claims Georgian forces kidnapped Sgt Glukhov, and demands his immediate release. Georgia says the soldier is free to leave if he so wishes. Russia’s Soldiers’ Mothers Committee has received several reports of bad conditions among Russian troops serving in South Ossetia.
Sgt Glukhov told Georgian television that his unit was deployed near South Ossetia in June 2008, and the unit commanders told that the forces were going to Tskhinvali to help the people against Georgia. In September 2008, another Russian soldier, Cpt Denis Sidristy, told that Russian forces were deployed in South Ossetia well before 8 August 2008, when Georgian forces stormed Tskhinvali. It has also emerged that Moscow illegally sent conscripts into battle.